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Army Goes Ghost

What the U.S. Army has to do with Sarah Palin, the Terminator and Men in Black.

Holograms may be the stuff of CNN laughability these days, but it turns out the U.S. Army is working hard on the real stuff. According to Dr. John Parmentola, Director of Research and Laboratory Management with the Army’s science and technology office, they are “making science fiction into reality” using quantum computing.

Holographic futureHere’s the gist: There’s a special kind of photons that don’t bounce off of objects but off of other photons, which have bounced off of objects themselves. This causes the object to be reflected in the second set of photons, creating a “ghost” image. Hence, the technique name: “Quantum Ghost Imaging.”

The Army hopes to use it in confusing the enemy with objects rendered through smoke and clouds. And we thought ghost soldiers were the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters.

The interesting part is that the military has been dabbling in quantum mechanics, neuroscience and robotics a lot lately, making nice with scientists and major research universities so they can grab revolutionary technologies before the general public.

Amnesia BeamRemember the Boston Dynamics Big Dog that shot straight to the YouTube top a few months ago? The technology was actually developed years ago and its possible military applications were first discussed by roboticist Rodney Brooks in his TED talk back in 2003. They’ve also dabbled in stem cell research for “growing back” body parts, turned to neuroscience for memory-erasing amnesia beams, and looked into controlling robots with nothing but thought.

Creeped out yet? You should be — it’s scary, Big-Brother-meets-Terminator stuff. But it’s also exciting to observe the mind-blowing scientific and technological progress of our day. That, and we loved the amnesia beam in Men In Black.

via Fast Company

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Child Art for Grown-Ups

What Superman, Tim Burton and 1,000 South Korean Children have in common.

There’s a reason why creative types often envy the imagination of a child, with its boundless freedom and its anything-is-possible vision. Some artists take that envy and turn it into creative fuel, using the whimsical world of children’s imagination as inspiration. Here are our top picks for child-centric art.

THE MONSTER ENGINE

Oh, those days when a piece of a paper and a pen or…imagine that…a crayon was all we needed to create fascinating stories and magical characters that could rival some of Hollywood’s most blockbustery output.

In The Monster Engine, NJ-based artist Dave DeVries takes those whimsical doodles and drawlings, and recreates them “realistically” with a grown-up artist’s eye.

The Monster Engine: Superman by Michael

The best part is that he only adds graphical sophistication and 3D realism to the images, without altering the child-artist’s creative vision.

This being said, some of the renditions interpret elements of the child’s drawings in peculiar ways, adding a new creative layer to the artwork. Like the fish flying out of this witch’s hand, a far stretch from the original doodle, which makes the image all the more interesting.

The Monster Engine: Witch & Fish

The Monster Engine is also available as a 48-page coffeetable book, covering the backstory of the 7-year project and featuring interviews with the children who inspired Dave’s artwork.

via shape+color

WONDERLAND

Korean artist Yeondoo Jung explores a different translation of children’s art. In his photoseries Wonderland, which you may recall from our Re:Perception issue, he takes those simple shapes and colors, and transforms them into high-impact, surrealist fashion photography.

Wonderland

The project is based on a the drawings of 5-to-7-year-old South Korean children, reconceived with live models, dramatic costumes and flamboyant colors.

Wonderland: Fox's Magic Trick

Besides the stunning art direction, we’re somehow drawn to that eerie grownup-child wold the images create, a place where wonder and magic are only limited by how we choose to perceive our subjective reality.

TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED

The creative link between the world of children and high fashion emerges once again in the December issue of Vogue UK’s with the Tales of the Unexpected editorial: a tribute to Roald Dahl’s, one of the most celebrated children’s book authors of the 20th century.

Vogue UK: Tales of the Unexpected

Starring the infamous Tim Burton and a slew of celebrity actors and musicians, the editorial recreates scenes and characters from some of Dahl’s most famous stories.

Vogue UK: Tales of the Unexpected

Shot by legendary fashion photographer Tim Walker, the spread brilliantly captures the very escapism that only high fashion can offer — an aspirational costume that outfits us for our grand dramatic performance in a staged world more beautiful and imaginative than our mundane reality.

via wickedhalo

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Buddhist Bottle Temple

Beer, Buddhism, and $100,000 worth of world-changing photography.

Heineken WOBOIn 1963, Alfred Heineken traveled to the Caribbean, where he got a bright idea for a two-birds-with-one-stone solution to the region’s littering problem and the lack of affordable building materials. He contacted Dutch architect John Habraken and the Heineken WOBO was born — a beer bottle that can be reused as a “brick” after the bacchanalia.

Great idea. Except it never reached critical mass.

Half a century later, Thai Buddhist monks have resurrected the idea with the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple, built entirely out glass bottles. Over a million of them.

Bottle Temple: Inside

Every minute detail of the temple is made entirely from bottles, from the roofing to the washrooms to the crematorium.

Monks first began using bottles to decorate their shelters and the temple’s murals in 1984, which inspired people to donate more bottles, eventually amassing enough to build entire buildings like pagodas and ceremony halls.

Buddhist Bottle Temple

We think the temple is a stunning reminder of the pressing need for recycling, repurposing, and rethinking our global drinking problem. After all, it takes 700 years for a single plastic bottle to even begin decomposing, and at a consumption rate of 30 billion plastic bottles per year, the we need more than prayers to move towards a more sustainable relationship with water. (Remember Blue Planet Run?)

Speaking of, the winner of the £53,000 Prix Pictet photography award was just announced — this year’s theme was water sustainability. Check it out.

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Blooper Troopers

Droops, bloopers and what geeks, babies and whales have in common.

Coolness often comes down to how well you handle the uncool stuff that inevitably happens. On the intertubes, that stuff is known by one infamous, universally hated number: 404. Today, we look at those coolest error pages that manage to inject some irreverent fun into all the frustration.

SMASHING MAGAZINE

SMASHING MAGAZINE 404

This lovable big droop extracts an “awww” from even the most cynical and web-raged of us, making us wanna hug him and tell him it’s okay.

GEEK SQUAD

GEEK SQUAD 404

Who can get mad at an awkward know-it-all geek? Okay, plenty of people. But this one aptly walks the fine line between know-it-all self-righteousness and it’s-all-in-good-fun self-derision.

MIXX

In terms of “personality,” Mixx has long been our favorite of the social bookmarking platforms. Their irreverent humor comes through here with both the clever pun and the sheer hilarity of the video.

TWITTER

Twitter Error Page

Most of us have been hit with the dreaded “Twitter down” message. And, come SXSW time or another major live blogging event, we’ll no doubt be hit again. (And again. And again.) But nothing softens the “Grrr!” like a simple image of serene empathy. Bonus points for using pastels to dampen the reds and yellows you’re feeling.

LOOK IT’S ME

This one goes all the way with a flash animation. Watch this little guy as he jumps around, wiggles a reprimanding finger at you, then finally gives up on your obvious idiocy and stomps away.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

There you have it, a cool error page can make the difference between “ugh” and “heh,” and works wonders for fostering that elusive devil’s-in-the-details emotional connection we have with our favorite sites.

We’re actually quite disappointed with the lack of clever 404 pages in some of our favorite, should-know-better web dwellings. (Wired, PSFK and Creativity, we’re looking at you.)

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